The Latest: Protesters unimpressed by Macron’s proposals

PARIS (AP) — The Latest on French President Emmanuel Macron’s proposed solutions to the economic problems raised by yellow vest protesters (all times local):

8:50 p.m.

Activists involved in France’s five months of yellow vest protests say they are disappointed with President Emmanuel Macron’s response to their demands for economic relief for the country’s working classes.

Paris region activist Thierry-Paul Valette tweeted after Macron outlined his long-awaited proposals Thursday night that the president spoke like “a supreme chief and doesn’t seem to understand that he should show modesty.”

Movement activists plan to protest for a 24th straight weekend on Saturday.

Once-prominent yellow vest activist Ingrid Levavasseur, who scaled back her participation amid the movement’s internal divisions and protest violence, told The Associated Press she found Macron’s response “not at all satisfactory.”

Levavasseur, cautiously welcomed his proposed measures to decentralize decision-making but said Macron’s plan wasn’t ambitious enough overall and didn’t resolve the financial difficulties of retirees.

She acknowledged that “the expectations are so enormous that it was bound to be disappointing.”


8:20 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has called Islamic extremism a threat to the French republic and says he wants the government to work harder to keep extremists from doing harm.

Macron said during a speech on Thursday night that he wants to strengthen oversight of extremist groups in France that are financed from abroad.

He insisted France’s long-held public policy of secularism state’s secular rules is the key that allows people of different beliefs and backgrounds to live together peaceably.

But the French leader also said he thinks illegal immigration is on France and Europe. He said he favors a “strong” Europe that protects its borders and takes in some asylum-seekers whose lives are at risk in other countries.

He said: “To be welcoming, you need to have a house. So we need borders. We need borders to be respected. We need rules.”


6:50 p.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron has pledged to cut income taxes for middle-class workers.

Macron made the vow Thursday during a planned speech outlining his response to months of anti-government protests.

He said he wants to “cut taxes for a maximum number of citizens and especially those who are working, the middle-class.”

Macron said he is considering financing the measure through cuts in public spending and making people work longer before they retire. He didn’t elaborate.  


6:35 p.m.

French President Emmanuel wants to reduce the number of lawmakers in parliament and to change the national legislature’s voting system so it better reflects the diversity of France’s political parties. 

Macron said Thursday during a speech planned to address the concerns raised by the anti-government yellow vest protesters: “We can improve” the parliament and make it “more efficient.”

France’s parliamentary election system currently is designed to give the winning party a strong majority, disadvantaging smaller parties.

Macron says he wants some of the seats in the lower house of parliament, the National Assembly, to be filled through a proportional system.

He said he also plans to make it easier for citizens to propose national referendums.


9 a.m.

French President Emmanuel Macron is set to unveil long-awaited plans to quell five months of yellow vest protests that have damaged his presidency.

Macron will speak to the nation from the Elysee presidential palace after three months of national debate aimed at addressing the protesters’ concerns through town hall meetings and collecting complaints online.

He is expected to unveil tax cuts for lower-income households and measures to boost pensions and help single parents. He may also make it easier for ordinary people to initiate local referendums.

While his promises are expected to respond to some demonstrators’ grievances, other critics are likely to dismiss them as too little, too late. The protesters see the centrist Macron, a former investment banker, as leading a French government that favors the rich and want more income equality.

Many French protesters say they can’t pay their bills due to the high cost of living.

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